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Brittany Black- Director

Brittany Black is a dancer, dance educator and choreographer currently serving as Director and Owner of Emerge Dance Academy.

As a dancer, she has extensive and varied training in Jazz, Tap, Hip Hop, Lyrical and Musical Theatre and was also trained professionally for her voice. Brittany has performed as an independent artist and also works as a freelance guest teacher, adjudicator, and choreographer. Her innovative choreography has been seen in many performances and events including a production of the Musical “Hairspray.” She continues to train and keep up-to-date by taking classes at Edge PAC, Harbour Dance Centre and attending workshops/conventions like the Dance Teacher’s Summit with some incredible creators in the industry.

In addition to her dance training Brittany was an English major who also studied Modern Dance at the U of A and completed a Diploma from the Northern Alberta Institute for Technology in Television Broadcasting. Brittany spent many years as a video editor and producer and still works as a freelance producer for Hoopla Media in Edmonton.

Since 2013, she has enjoyed working on the Emerge business side as well as teaching. Brittany believes that her love of dance, her education and her experience in the production industry has given her a unique and creative sounding board for her ever-growing journey in entrepreneurship. She has enjoyed creating an environment for dancers that is safe to grow in, unique in both choreography and music, varied in educators and mentors and most of all…a positive community.

Sharing the love, art and freedom of movement in dance with students and colleagues is extremely important to her. She finds great joy in continuing to watch Emerge students’ progress each year and share their achievements: in classes, exams and especially… on stage!

Josephine Cavaco- Ballet & Modern

Josephine, who hails from Montreal, developed a passion for dance very early. At the age of 3, she began her training at Le Centre d'Art de Natasha under ballet Mistress Marie Cote, a retired National Ballet company member. 

Her training in ballet and modern lead her to join the professional program at L'ecole Superiuere de la Dance du Quebec. She continued her training in ballet, modern and character dance for the next 6 years under Susanne Toumine and Wendy Wright. Josephine's devotion and love of dance led her to join Les Grande Ballet Canadiens at the early age of 16. She has performed various roles in ballets such as the Nutcracker, Giselle, Sleeping Beauty, Raymonda, Coppelia and Swan Lake. Josephine is a performer, teacher and choreographer who holds her Associates in the Cecchetti Ballet teaching method.

Barb Vargas - Tap 

Versatile dancer and educator, Barbara Vargas, perused a Diploma in Music, using her shoes as her major instrument at Vancouver Community College. Her wide variety of musical knowledge and performance experience locally and internationally allows her to jump into many different types of projects. Most recently her credits include: Young Frankenstien, For the arms that have held me, Swing Showcase, and playing a sold out show with Generations at Edmonton’s Jazz fest. 

Barbara holds a Bachelor of Education from the University of Alberta as well as training through International Internships in Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles. Barbara was for years a leader in the Edmonton-area and Vancouver Tap dance community. She has recently relocated to Edmonton as an Instructor at McEwan University. 

She looks forward to joining the Emerge team and sharing her love for Tap dance. 

“Basically tap is about love. It is about your love for music, your love for dance, and how much you enjoy doing it, and inspiring others to enjoy life"

- Jason Samuels Smith

Shannon Lin- Ballet, Lyrical, Jazz 

Shannon Lin is an emerging artist originally from Edmonton, Alberta. She began her

training at a very young age at Dance Theme Ltd. in Edmonton, and has experience

training and competing in a variety of styles including ballet (RAD), jazz, lyrical,

contemporary, modern, and acro. In addition to that, Shannon has travelled to attend

several conventions and competitions throughout North America including The Pulse

on Tour, VIP, Nuvo, Jump, and The Dance Awards. After completing high school,

Shannon found herself in Vancouver, BC to pursue a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Honours) in

Dance at Simon Fraser University, which she recently completed. Her studies have

encouraged her to take on various forms of movement exploration and composition,

which she continues through projects that have been featured on Nextfest, Breakaway

Cabaret, and hopefully many more to come.

During her studies and training, Shannon has taught a variety of classes in both

Edmonton and Vancouver for students of all ages. She is thrilled to be on the Emerge

team to share her passion for dance and movement!

Leyla Yasa- Hip Hop, Jazz, Tap, Lyrical 

Leyla is a well rounded and energetic hip hop, jazz, tap, and lyrical teacher here at Emerge. Leyla began dancing at the age of 6 and has trained in ballet, jazz, lyrical, hip hop, modern, tap and contemporary. She has traveled to LA- to take classes at the Edge, Disneyland -to perform and to Las Vegas- to attend workshops at West Coast Dance Explosion. Leyla has trained and assisted at Dance Alberta and Emerge Dance Academy. She was also a part of Emerge's company team, Fused. She is currently working towards getting her degree in Bachelor of Elementary Education at the University of Alberta.  

Dance is Leyla's biggest passion and she loves sharing the beauty and meaning behind all dance forms. 

Paige Hanic- Tap, Admin 

Paige started dance at 3 years old, training in jazz, ballet, lyrical and tap. She quickly found a love for all styles of dance, but has always been especially passionate about tap. Paige has trained at various studios throughout her time as a competitive dancer but found her home at Emerge when she was 15. After graduating from Emerge in 2019, Paige was thrilled to continue to pursue dance by joining the team as a tap instructor for young dancers! She now furthers her tap dance training as part of an adult ensemble at Dance Co. studio.

Outside of dance, Paige is studying to complete her Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminology at the University of Alberta. She is passionate about social justice and seeing change in her community. Volunteering with Youth Restorative Action Project, Paige hopes to work with at-risk youth in her future career.

Paige is so excited for the opportunity to keep practicing leadership and administrative skills at Emerge, all while continuing to do what she loves most- dance!

Nika Giblak- Ballet

Nika began dancing at the age of 3 and continued her dance education through high school, and continued into university while pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree at MacEwan University. Nika’s diverse dance education in ballet, tap, jazz, and contemporary made her an exceptional candidate when she applied to the Victoria School of the Arts. As a student being mentored by the staff at Emerge Dance Academy, she realized that she wanted to give back and share her love of dance by becoming a mentor to the younger students in the studio that she grew up in!

Nika’s training is expansive, including Canadian and international artists of note, such as Peggy Baker, Allen Kaeja, and Roni Blak— who runs a studio in Los Angeles, California. Nika performed as a dancer in a multitude of projects and performances at Victoria School and local dance festivals such as Nextfest. She has choreographed a solo, duet and group piece to complete her certification in the Dance 35 IB program at the higher level. These pieces were well received as they were performed at a Victoria production.

As a classically trained ballerina, she developed a heartfelt love of the art form, which ignited a yearning to mentor younger ballet dancers. This led to her journey as an assistant at Emerge Dance Academy at the age of 14. While assisting her teachers, she acquired a Grade 6 Cecchetti ballet certificate, the highest level grade of completion. She is most proud of that accomplishment.

As a fun fact, as she grew up at Emerge, a studio that develops young dancers and artists, her mentors cast her in their promotional video at 13. Nika’s continues to support her studio and looks forward to creating a safe space for young aspiring dancers!

Sarah Boutillier- Admin

Sarah danced with Emerge for five years and trained in ballet, jazz, lyrical and contemporary! In her free time, she loves to travel and spend time with her friends and family. She is super excited to come back to the studio and continue to be a part of the Emerge family!

Tessa van Herwaarden- Hip Hop

Tessa has grown up dancing at Emerge and has trained in hip hop, jazz, ballet, and lyrical. She enjoys reading, spending time with family and friends and learning new things! 

Ruth- Studio Greeter

Ruth is Emerge's official studio dog! She loves greeting dancers at the door and is always "hounding" them for treats and belly rubs. Her favourite type of dance is "paw-de-deux" and she is always reminding dancers to hold their "pawsture."

Ruth has been dancing at Emerge since she was 3 months old! Her special moves include sitting, speaking, rolling over and shaking hands. She is often found sleeping at the front of the classroom or following her favourite students around the studio, hoping someone will throw her ball. She is sweet and goofy and looks forward to greeting you! 


Brittney began her dance training in Calgary Alberta. Her training in Ballet, Jazz, Tap, Contemporary, Lyrical, Hip Hop, and Modern haas taken her around the world performing with The Calgary Dance Express. In 2003 Brittney represented Canada in both Jazz and Tap at the Worlds in Riesa, Germany. She has also had the pleasure to be part of the hugely successful Tap Company M.A.D.D. Rhythms. In 2006 she moved to Los Angeles to pursue her love of dance and further her training, while attending classes at Millennium Dance Complex and The Edge. Brittney was a part of Sara Dolan's contemporary company O2 Dance. She performed with O2 for 2 years, performing in they’re sold out show; I.M The Seasons Of Love.

She has also danced for musical artists Michale Fitzgerald, Bif Naked, Narai Dawn, Jess Cullen and many more. Brittney currently resides in Calgary teaching workshops and masterclasses for various studios. She is also sought out as a choreographer, guest teacher, and adjudicator throughout Alberta and British Columbia. Her recent performances as a principal dancer include: Lovers of Marley, Lovers of Queen and Sweet Moves.

Brittney has had a busy year dancing in videos for musical artist Narai Dawn. She danced in the extremely successful fundraiser for St. Paul's mental health ward "Brilliant". As well as performed in the sold out show run of Dances for a Small Stage 35 ~ Valentines Edition, and more recently choreographed and performed a piece for the university of Calgary’s Arch Awards as well as a music video for Alberta's own Gord Bamford.